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San Diego Businesses: Finding Workers in the “Gig” Economy

Most San Diego and California businesses know about the so-called “gig” economy. Maybe you have hired a few “gig” workers here and there. In general, a “gig” worker is a short-term independent contractor. Given certain structural elements in the national economy and given some characteristics of the “millennial” generation, it seems the gig economy is here to stay. If your business has gig workers or if you are considering hiring some gig workers, it would be wise to consult with a talented and experienced business attorney. Even for short gig-type jobs, the best business practice is to have the worker sign a short contract. At minimum, your business should send over company policies, rules, and procedures.

San Diego Gig Economy: What is the “Gig” Economy?

The millennials generation is now the country’s largest generation – about 75 million according to Census data. While not true for every millennial, millennial workers are often characterized as rejecting the traditional employment model of the 9-to-5 job. Some, of course, have argued that this is not a purposeful choice, but rather a function of the splintering of the job market. Whatever the reason, many have gotten comfortable with the flexibility of job opportunities offered in the so-called “gig” economy where the structure and the timing is flexible and the hours and duties variable. Examples of gig economy jobs are those offered by Uber, Lyft, DineOut, internet copywriting, freelance writing/editing, and so on. See news article here.

San Diego Gig Economy: Making the “Gig” Economy Work for Your Business

Recently, a number of websites have arisen aiming to connect employers with gig workers where the project is short term and/or specialized. Examples include Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. Some, more traditional, employment agencies are expanding into gig job and workers.

San Diego Gig Economy: Advantages for San Diego Business

There are several advantages for a San Diego business in using gig workers including:

  • Gig workers are not “employees” and therefore no withholdings, benefits, etc., need be provided — legally speaking, gig workers are considered “independent contractors, not ‘employees’”
  • Augment your staff with low risk — since the gig workers are not “employees,” hiring them is a low risk method of augmenting staff
  • A method of conducting subtle and low risk job interviews — it is not uncommon for a freelancer to impress and then be considered for a permanent job; if they do a good job and you need a permanent employee, you now have some candidates
  • A larger pool of workers (depending on the project) — a large segment of the gig economy is remote via the internet where gig workers work from home; if you have a project that is amenable to this approach, a San Diego business can hire a Boston gig worker, allowing your business to tap into national employment pools
  • Cost savings with respect to hiring — hiring from a traditional “temp agency” comes with costs paid to the agency; freelance workers can cost up to half what it would cost through a temp agency
  • Cost savings with respect to wages — for various reasons, freelance workers tend to be willing to work for less; you might get a bargain in terms of wages

San Diego Gig Economy: Contracts and Company Policies are Needed

As noted, before you enter the market and start hiring gig workers, it would be wise to consult with a talented and experienced business attorney. There are important legal issues to consider. If you use a given worker too many times, will he or she be deemed an “employee” under California and/or federal law? If your worker is on-site, there are issues with respect to discrimination and harassment laws, use and misuse of company resources, negligence, and like. Even for remote gig jobs, there are potential issues with respect to intellectual property, confidentiality, non-disclosure, use/mention on social media platforms, etc.

An employment contract is needed, even if only a short one. At minimum, the gig worker should be sent applicable company policies, rules, and procedures.

Contact San Diego Corporate Law Today

If you would like more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard has extensive experience in drafting employee policies, employee handbooks, employment contracts, and the other contracts and agreements necessary for running your business. Mr. Leonard can provide advice and custom-draft contracts and policies if you have or plan to hire gig economy workers. Mr. Leonard can be reached at (858) 483-9200 or via email.

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